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Hatch End: A Place of the Mind


This paper is concerned with what is now the north-east London suburb of Hatch End and the feelings thoughts and memories it had for the author during his formative years. It deals with the quotidian and the reflections it can arouse. There is no attempt to produce a formal local history of Hatch End but rather there is employment of the author’s autobiographical memory to record how temporal change influenced (and to a degree formed) him as an individual. The mix of perspectives to perform this task involves, in the main, considerations of physical and symbolic space from (a) solid and identifiable features of Hatch End (housing, public buildings, transport links, recreational spaces, etc) to (b) the meanings of countryside, family life, social class and modernity. For the author Hatch End does not carry with it the freight of being a place with deep historical roots or of having a high public profile. In general critiques of suburbia Hatch End could be classified as dull and uninteresting. In fact, the author ventures that Hatch End could be regarded as “no particular place”. This is not however how the author personally regards Hatch End. For him there was in Hatch End plenty of exciting material for the construction of a self in a real place. As he says, “no particular place” can be, autobiographically speaking, a rather special place. 


Hatch End, Place, Space, Practical, Imaginary, Symbolic, Autobiography, David Morgan


Author Biography

David Morgan

David H. J. Morgan was Professor Emeritus in Sociology, University of Manchester. David founded the Morgan Centre for the Study of Everyday Lives and was President of the British Sociological Association (BSA), 1997–1999. His work varied but he is most well-known for studies on sociology of the family, gender, men and masculinities, workplaces, auto/biography, and more recently through two books on neglected topics within sociology: acquaintances, and snobbery. His books have included: Social Theory and the Family; The Family, Politics, and Social Theory; Discovering Men; and Family Connections. 

Michael Erben

Michael Erben was for many years Director of the Centre for Biography and Education at the University of Southampton (UK). He was a founder member of the BSA Auto/Biography Study Group and has published widely in the area of biographical studies and narrative. His most recent book, co-authored with Hilary Dickinson, is Nostalgia and Auto/Biography. He is now largely retired and is, contentedly, an independent scholar while holding an Honorary Fellowship at the University of Southampton and preparing (with Jenny Byrne) an extensive study of British postwar (1945-51) lives. 


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